#Drought + pipeline break = shutdown of boat ramp at Rampart Reservoir

Rampart Reservoir. Photo credit: The Applegate Group

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Liz Forster, Brian Blevins):

The immediate cause was the diversion of more than 3 billion gallons to other reservoirs in late January when a 100-foot section of pipeline broke, Utilities spokesman Steve Berry said.

And, Abby Ortega, Utilities’ water resource manager, remains confident that its reservoirs are holding enough water to last more than three years.

Unless the drought persists and it doesn’t snow enough next winter to bring the snowpack up to normal. Then, Utilities officials said, residents could be looking at restrictions on when they can water lawns and wash cars by August 2019.

“The lower reservoir level is because of the break, not so much the drought,” Berry said. “Looking ahead, our reservoir capacity and its impacts on customers really depends on how we look going into next year. What is the fall like? What is the winter like, especially in the high country where we collect a lot of our water.”

Rampart Reservoir is at 65 percent capacity, 10 percent below the 10-year average, Ortega said. Early snow is needed to get Rampart’s levels back to where they need to be in April, when the reservoir’s storage levels are at their peak.

Twin Lakes and Turquoise Lake, two of the other reservoirs on the Western Slope that feed into the Homestake Pipeline that ruptured in January, are full…

The Utilities Board would consider restricting water use — generally limiting the days when outdoor watering and washing vehicles is permitted — if water stored in reservoirs dropped to a 1½-year supply, Ortega said.

The last time Utilities imposed water restrictions was in 2013 during the seventh driest 12-month period in recent Colorado history, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported. That June, Colorado received less than 50 percent of normal precipitation.

When Stage II restrictions were approved by the Utilities Board, the city had an estimated two-year supply, Ortega said.

But 2013 paled in comparison to 2003 and 2004, when the city’s reservoirs held less than a two-month supply.

That experience combined with the city’s comprehensive Integrated Water Resource Plan gives the city the flexibility to deal with droughts, Berry said.

The 93-page plan approved by Utilities in February 2017 looks at the city’s water supply for the next 50 years, taking into account six variable factors: climate, population growth and demand, water rights challenges, aging infrastructure, environmental risks and state regulations. Its ultimate goal is to maintain a minimum of one-year’s storage at all times and a year-and-a-half’s at least 90 percent of the time…

Only hand-launched, nonmotorized watercraft will be permitted between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Sunday at Rampart Reservoir for the remainder of the season.

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